Since learning that I actually quite like chicken, I’ve been trying to become more comfortable cooking it. This is easier said than done for the nervous cook; You hear so many horror stories about undercooked chicken and I’ve had food poisoning before NO THANKS DON’T WANT THAT AGAIN *shudder*. My anxieties generally mean that I end up cooking the hell out of the chicken until the texture is reminiscent of shoe leather. Mmmmmmmmmm…
My friend Helen (Hi Helen! *waves*) told me to try cooking it in a little tinfoil parcel to make it more difficult to achieve that textbook, shoe leather consistency. I tried it the other day and LO AND BEHOLD SHE’S A CHUFFING GENIUS! I’m now sharing it with you guys, because sharing’s caring dontcha know.
I had my chicken with tricolore quinoa because I like to sound like a bit of a dick and the south American/Italian fusion TOTALLY DOES IT FOR ME. If you can get over the dick-ish name I’ve given it and source yourself some quinoa you’ll make yourself a really simple, tasty, perfect-for-midweek dinner, and because you’re using quinoa instead of rice or potatoes you can also feel virtuous (I lose track of why that is, something about protein or complex carbs or superfoods or WHATEVER). It’s also easy to multiply the ingredients to make a romantic supper pour un/deux/trois (whatever you’re into guys, I won’t judge you…). I know there’s nothing revolutionary about the flavour combinations, but let’s face it, they’re classic because it’s REALLY HARD TO MAKE THEM TASTE BAD, which is a good thing, k? The only thing you can really do to balls this dinner up is undercook the chicken. Please don’t do that, my nerves couldn’t handle it and I’d have to go all Mrs Bennett on yo’ ass.
What you need:
A free range (come on guys, I know it’s more expensive but we all want to get to heaven, don’t we?) chicken breast per person
1/2 a pot of fresh pesto p/p
50g quinoa p/p
small handful of cherry or plum tomatoes p/p
A small handful of basil
Mozzarella (about a quarter of a ball p/p if you’re asking, but go nuts, it’s cheese, the more the better)
1/2 strength veg stock (otherwise the quinoa gets a little too salty)
Salad (or veg or whatever) to serve
What to do:
1. Start cooking your quinoa first, drizzle some (chilli) oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat it up. When it’s very hot, add your quinoa and stir it around in the hot oil to toast it
2. Add your stock a little bit at a time. Officially (ie. according to Google) you’re supposed to use twice as much stock as you do quinoa but I’m never sure how to figure this out without resorting to American ‘cups’ which completely blow my mind. I just add the stock a little at a time and let the quinoa absorb it, a bit like a risotto. 100g of quinoa takes about 30 minutes to cook.
3. While your quinoa is cooking, take your chicken breast/s and lay it on a piece of tinfoil in a baking tray. Spoon over half a pot of fresh pesto and rub it into the breast (teehee).
4. Make your tinfoil into a loose parcel (keep that breast moisty-moist) (*snigger*) and stick it in an oven that’s been pre-heated to 200ºC for about 20 minutes.
5. While your chicken is baking away and your quinoa is bubbling and absorbing merrily, chop your tomatoes and basil and tear your mozzarella.
6. When your quinoa is done (you’ll be able to tell when it’s done when it looks like the picture below, taste a bit and if it’s softish with a bit of a bite then you’re there), stir through the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and grind some black pepper on top.
7. Take your chicken out of the oven and unwrap the pesto-ey juiciness. When I serve up my chicken I like to also pour over all the garlic-y, basil-y oil it’s been cooking in, but I supposed if you were trying to get beach body ready HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA you could not do this. I’ll have yours, no probs, I’m good like that.
8. Serve the chicken and quinoa with some salad/veggies and a nice glass of white if you’re trying to impress – tah-dah!